Punjab is known to be the country’s most prosperous province. Businesses are booming, and it seems like the province is also seeing a resurgence in an illegal trade – the business of selling kidneys that is.
Official data has not been recorded for the number of people in the country who have sold/ or are selling their kidneys. But according to some informed officials, at least 1000 people sell their kidneys every year in Pakistan.
“Until last year, Pakistan was the main hub of this trade. According to some estimates, 85% of all organ trafficking cases were reported in Pakistan a few years back”, Babar Nawaz Khan, chairman of the National Assembly Standing Committee on Human Rights said.
Kot Momin, a town in Sargodha district, is known as the country’s ‘citrus region’ due to a thriving orange, lemons and lime trade. It has been reported that hundreds of people have sold their kidneys in Kot Momin alone.
Zafar Iqbal, a social activist and a victim of illegal organ trafficking says that,
I have applications from around 250 people, who have sold their kidneys and now who are seeking government help. They want authorities to provide jobs to them or their kids, as they can no longer do jobs like construction work.
He sold his kidney in 2003 when his brother died. He was driven to desperation since he was responsible for supporting his brother’s family as well as funding the weddings of his two sisters.
Sadly, his story is not the only case of its kind.
A Similar Case
Ismat Bibi, a housewife in Punjab faced a similar situation. She had four children to look after, a husband suffering tuberculosis and she also owed a debt of Rs 100,000. Considering the crisis, she made the decision to sell her kidney.
Her neighbor in the town of Kot Momin suggested her to take this action. He told her that one kidney will be sufficient for her to survive so she should get rid of one and earn Rs 110,000.
Twelve years later, the situation got worse. Her husband’s health deteriorated and now she has to take care of a mentally disabled young daughter. She herself is suffering from severe abdominal pain and now her 15 year old son plans to sell his kidney too.
The vicious cycle of illegal kidney trade continues in an environment where poverty tends to linger.
Minimizing Organ Trade
Pakistan banned illegal human organ trade in 2010. If anyone is involved in this trade in any way, be it a recipient, donor, a doctor involved in transplanting the organs or a middleman, they can be jailed for up to 10 years and fined up to Rs 1 million.
The law doesn’t apply to anyone who is donating their kidney to a family member or for a charitable cause. Selling to foreigners, however, is illegal.
Police claim that its not easy to break the supply chain and the trafficking network, with key players being influential persons with political connections. The authorities have ensured that the regulatory authority taking care of organ transplants will be granted more power and surveillance in hospitals will be improved.
Via Express Tribune